alexmillis
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How to be a good student pilot?

Fri Aug 11, 2017 11:01 am

Hi all,

I've just properly started out on my 'aviation journey' and have been taking lessons for a few months now - about to move on to 'turning'
I love flying to bits and have no doubts about doing this as my career. However, I want to get the absolute most out of my lessons as I can so I can grow to be a GOOD pilot, particularly considering how much it costs (and the crappy jobs I have to work to make the money...). I also don't want my instructor to dread spending an hour in a Cessna with a cocky teenager trying to kill him on approach.
What makes a good student? How can someone who is still navigating their angsty younger years become a safe, skilled pilot who isn't a PITA? I think I'm doing quite well so far, but I'm always looking out for advice on how to improve.


I want to be like you cool airline guys one day - just less wrinkly
 
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Starlionblue
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Re: How to be a good student pilot?

Fri Aug 11, 2017 1:18 pm

Perhaps the most important two items on any lesson feedback are "on time" and "well prepared". Respect your instructor and yourself by being on time. Get the most out of a session by being well prepared.

- No pilot is perfect. Making mistakes is something we do. However, being complacent about making mistakes is not something we should be.
- Seek feedback and critique before and after lessons. Be humble while doing this.
- Listen. Listen. Listen. Even the most inept instructor can give you a learning experience despite himself.
- Don't just read the manuals. Seek information with a purpose. Dream up scenarios (or have them suggested) and then find everything relevant in the documentation that would help you resolve the situation. "What would I do if I lost an engine at 1000 feet over a forest?". "What happens if I can't feather? What systems are involved? What help can I get from ATC? What should I do first?"
- There's a fine balance between being disrespectfully nonchalant about your own failings and letting your errors get you down. Accept and embrace the mistakes that you make while learning to internalise criticism, learn from it and move on.
- Take notes. But not passively. What is the purpose? What are you learning?
- Keep a journal of things you feel you want to improve. Then work on those.
- Keep asking questions, but don't ask questions only to make yourself look knowledgeable.
- Chair fly. A lot. A LOT! A 10 minute walk in the park or a run or a bicycle ride to work is a great opportunity for going through memory procedures for the 100th time.
- Being a pilot, especially a professional one, is a marathon, not a sprint. You won't be able to pilot an airliner on day one. Having said that, celebrate your triumphs. First solo? Yay! PPL passed? Yay! IFR checkride? Yay! Every step gets you further on your chosen path.
Last edited by Starlionblue on Fri Aug 11, 2017 1:23 pm, edited 2 times in total.
"There are no stupid questions, but there are a lot of inquisitive idiots." - John Ringo
 
Woodreau
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Re: How to be a good student pilot?

Fri Aug 11, 2017 1:22 pm

Just keep an open mind and have a good attitude. Since this is something you want to do it should be easy to stay motivated to learn.

Any problems in training are usually solved with time and money until you run out of one or the other or both.

Good luck and have fun.

Haha.. when I was your age, I never wanted to be a cool airline guy - but here I am - a wrinkly airline guy. Lol
Bonus animus sit, ab experientia. Quod salvatum fuerit de malis usu venit judicium.
 
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flyingturtle
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Re: How to be a good student pilot?

Fri Aug 11, 2017 3:23 pm

As an addition to the splendid responses by Woodreau and Starlionblue, I would suggest reading accident reports, especially as they refer to a) your aircraft type and b) decision-making. With the same information as the unfortunate crew had - how would you have decided? How would you have prevented the accident?

Accident reports are a great (and free) opportunity to teach yourself. I can attest to that as a non-pilot but aviation nerd.


David
Keeping calm is terrorism against those who want to live in fear.
 
ATCSuggester
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Re: How to be a good student pilot?

Fri Aug 11, 2017 3:27 pm

Some good advice here.

I would stress a couple of things:
1. Make sure that you and your flight instructor get along well! It is important that you feel that your CFI is teaching you the way you learn best. Learning to fly is stressful and there are many things to learn. When you are shoulder to shoulder in the summer heat doing touch and go's for hours, you want someone you can relax with, feel comfortable asking any questions, and don't feel intimidated by. This can be the difference between getting your PPL in 40 hours verses 60 hours. (And all that money saved)!!!
2. Make sure you are self studying at home. This will save lots of money in ground school (assuming you are in part 61 training). Get the ASA private pilot written practice book and the checkride book. These two resources will answer a lot of questions you have regarding airspace, airplane operations, emergencies etc. and it will really impress your instructor when you know the material cold. If you break it down into sections at home, you can be ready for the written in about a week or two. This is not a long time and the sooner you get the written out of the way the better.
3. Don't be afraid to talk to ATC! We are there to help you and if you tell us you are a student pilot we will be forgiving if you do something that a 10000 hour FDX pilot wouldn't do (hehe). The biggest thing I can say about this is 1. know what you want to say BEFORE you key up the mic, especially if the frequency is busy. 2. Don't step on anyone (active listening skills are huge in aviation). 3. if you need help (progressive taxi, a frequency repeated etc.,) just ask.
4. Have fun! Flying is a fun activity that not many people get to do!

Good luck
 
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Starlionblue
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Re: How to be a good student pilot?

Fri Aug 11, 2017 11:06 pm

ATCSuggester wrote:
3. Don't be afraid to talk to ATC! We are there to help you and if you tell us you are a student pilot we will be forgiving if you do something that a 10000 hour FDX pilot wouldn't do (hehe). The biggest thing I can say about this is 1. know what you want to say BEFORE you key up the mic, especially if the frequency is busy. 2. Don't step on anyone (active listening skills are huge in aviation). 3. if you need help (progressive taxi, a frequency repeated etc.,) just ask.


Good luck


I read a post on this site years ago that said radio panels seem equipped with a switch that inserts "and-ummmmm" before a transmission. :D

Adding to the excellent notes about ATC, find the LiveATC page for your airport and listen to it. On a piece of paper draw the positions of the aircraft based solely on radio traffic. Learning to recognize the positions and intentions of aircraft like this is an important skill.

And if you're unsure about what you heard, "say again" is a powerful tool. Don't be afraid to use it!
"There are no stupid questions, but there are a lot of inquisitive idiots." - John Ringo
 
CH47A
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Re: How to be a good student pilot?

Sat Aug 12, 2017 6:45 am

I noticed only Starlionblue making note of any sort of physical activity and not in the context I wish to emphasize.

You have to keep in mind that having the right touch is a really important aspect to flying. I'm not really sure how to properly define what "the right touch" means, but it probably isn't necessary to go into some deep thinking on being able to properly get your hands and feet to do what your eyes and brain are telling your hands and feet need doing.

When I was drafted I got shoved into flight school for choppers instead of being allowed to stay with fixed wing and I saw some other folks that were not keeping themselves in good shape and they were the ones having the most problems, after those that didn't do their brain work -- the homework.

There's a physical thing to flying that doesn't get enough discussion, in my view.

Stretching exercises, for example before and after some semi-tough physical activity. You don't need to be doing stuff like them Tae Kwon Do people do, but some sort of physical training along with stretching exercise can help a whole bunch.

"The Touch" and I wish I knew a proper way to explain it. Maybe somebody else can help me here on this one.
 
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Starlionblue
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Re: How to be a good student pilot?

Sat Aug 12, 2017 9:43 am

CH47A, you make a very good point about physical activity. Not only is it important to keep the body in shape, but physical activity releases stress.

As you get older, your body will try to get older as well. (Bummer.) Any form of physical activity is good, but I would make a shoutout for simple balance exercises to be included. Yes, you need to train balance in order to retain hand-eye coordination.

As for what particular form of physical activity you choose, it should primarily be something you like doing and are motivated to continue. If that means shooting hoops, swimming, going to the gym, trail running or stand-up paddleboarding is not as important as actually going out there and giving your body a nice workout.
"There are no stupid questions, but there are a lot of inquisitive idiots." - John Ringo
 
FlyHossD
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Re: How to be a good student pilot?

Sat Aug 12, 2017 3:36 pm

First, good luck.

Second, there are some posts already here, so I'll just add a couple of comments.

Study! Come prepared for your lesson. Forcing an instructor to "spoon feed" you something you should have already studied is expensive to you.

We all make mistakes, so don't beat yourself up when you make one. Instead, learn from that mistake and vow not to make it again.
My statements do not represent my former employer or my current employer and are my opinions only.
 
CanadianNorth
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Re: How to be a good student pilot?

Sat Aug 12, 2017 5:57 pm

A few things I noticed getting my PPL, in no particular order...

- Read the books. It blew my mind how many fellow students would pay hundreds of dollars for books and then not read them, and when I pointed out that observation to one of my instructors one day he said yes when he jumps in the airplane for a lesson he can usually tell right away which kids read the book and which ones didn't.
- Ask questions. Instructors are like the books, you're paying for it either way so you might as well make use of it.
- We all f*** up and any reasonable instructor knows that. Admit it, fix it, carry on.
- Set the bar high, but don't stress about it. Always try your hardest to be good at every lesson, but once the lesson is done go home and do something else fun and unrelated for a bit to give yourself a break.
- Studying is important, but sleeping, eating, and exercise are just as important. You'll feel better, and you have medicals to pass too.
- Show up on time, ready to go. If you have the airplane at 09.00 aim to be there at 08.45, and if your instructor or airplane isn't ready yet then sit down and read your book for 10 minutes.
- Get up early, do your weather checks and flight planning while having some breakfast, and then when you show up you'll be ready to go and do the fun part. I regularly saw other students paying an instructor by the hour for stuff they could have done at home for free.
- In my experience the folks on the other end of the radio are really friendly about 99% of the time, so if you're not sure just ask.
- After every flight write down three things you think you need to work on, and three things that you think you did really well.
- Most important point of all: Flying is fun, every now and then just take a moment to look around and enjoy it!
HS-748, just like a 747 but better!
 
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Starlionblue
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Re: How to be a good student pilot?

Sun Aug 13, 2017 2:18 am

A few more notes:

- Once you have some experience, preparation will take less time since you know what to focus on and you have a flow. So don't be surprised if an experienced pilots takes 15 minutes to prep for a flight while it takes you 30.

- Develop a consistent flight preparation habit that works for you, so that you do the same steps every time. This makes it harder to miss a step. A part of this is the Personal Information Sheet (PIM). There are several commercially available, such as FlyWrite pads. (http://www.checkmateaviation.com/Products/FlyWrite_Pad/flywrite_pad.html). You can also make your own if that works better. Many pilots design theirs and have them printed in little books. The PIM is used to organise information pre-flight, to structure the pre-flight briefing, and as a reference in flight.

- Just as you should develop a flight prep habit, you should also develop a briefing habit. Use a consistent briefing method, going through the same steps every time. Even going into a familiar airport, doing a short briefing will keep you from forgetting the little details. A common briefing method is CTWO. (Chart. Terrain. Weather. Operational.) This can be used for anything from pre-flight to approach. Practice your briefings. A lot. Examples:
----- Pre-flight: "Today we are flying from Santa Monica to John Wayne airport. Route as marked here on sectional CHART number x. High TERRAIN to the north. MSA is nnn. WEATHER is nil significant. OPERATIONALLY we expect departure over the water. Noise abatement take-off with a slight left turn abeam the fuel farm, then follow the golf course. High density airspace. The aircraft is fine. Fuel on board is mmm and we expect to land with nnn."
----- Prior to approach: "Approach is ILS Z for Runway 22 at airport X. CHART 50-3. ILS Frequency xyz is tuned but not yet identified. Final approach track 223 is set. Elevation 98 feet. Final check altitude 1280 feet at four DME. Minima 298 feet. Missed approach is straight ahead, 3000 feet. High TERRAIN to the east. Minimum safe in our sector 2000 feet. WEATHER is low cloud and gusty winds. OPERATIONALLY, we have fuel for alternate and an additional 20 minutes holding. Expect late handover to tower and possible windshear on final. Runways is 2400 meters, which is ample. Expect to vacate right."


CanadianNorth wrote:
- Read the books. It blew my mind how many fellow students would pay hundreds of dollars for books and then not read them, and when I pointed out that observation to one of my instructors one day he said yes when he jumps in the airplane for a lesson he can usually tell right away which kids read the book and which ones didn't.


Your comment about instructors is so true. They have seen it all before. In a similar vein, a check captain I spoke to said he knows if a guy will pass a line check before they leave dispatch.
"There are no stupid questions, but there are a lot of inquisitive idiots." - John Ringo
 
Gasman
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Re: How to be a good student pilot?

Sun Aug 13, 2017 2:48 am

1. Be humble & enthusiastic
2. Nail your preflight checks and cockpit procedures with military discipline
3. Mentally "own" the flight yourself rather than simply being the instructor's passenger & student
4. Safety first
5. Repeat #4 a million times.
 
CH47A
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Re: How to be a good student pilot?

Sun Aug 13, 2017 11:47 am

Okey-dokey, I've got a tad bit of time to add something that also entered my brain while I was thinking about that other thread.

But first, let me repeat something, if I may. It is not just the physical exercise I was/am advocating. It is the stretching exercises that I feel are the key. And you certainly should not do serious stretching until you are warmed up through some sort of physical activity. It is actually a rather complicated process, if you want to do it right, but this thread isn't for that.

But my paragraph just above is not the main reason I am posting. I've got something else on my mind that I view as mighty important when flying. And this isn't just for the OP. Even those of you with a few hours under your belt ought to think about two things. My view is these two things (situations) need to be given very, very serious thought BEFORE they happen.

Clear air turbulence and inadvertent IFR.

When I write "very serious thought" I mean to think about these two situations in a way that you may actually have your brain feeling like it is really in the situation you are "feeling". Now that is a really weird thinking style and very hard to put into words, but it is possible. Just not easy.

Yes, you can read about what others felt and did when they hit either of those and there are various writings from experienced SIPs that give you ideas on how to handle these two situations, but none of those are enough.

You have to somehow program your brain not to freak out and just reading and listening to others isn't enough.

But I am having a tough time explaining what I mean about "feeling" the actual situation. After you have actually been through either of these situations you don't need that "feeling" thing anymore.

Oh yes, and a very serious discussion can ensue about whether a simulator can do the job. When I started flying the simulators were not that good and because I went through both situations by the time the simulators were that good I can't be a judge on whether the simulator alone does the trick. In fact, somebody might want to start a discussion on just this point. I don't care if you want to take the idea and start the thread yourself, if it is not already active on the board.

Anyway, that is three things from me: The Touch / CAT / Inadvertent IFR.

I sure hope some of you others in this community with some serious hours under your belts and with a good way with words can explain any of those three better than I. Might be, though, I should repeat something that I think I have posted elsewhere in the community, I am permanently grounded because of one of my ears and pressure. I have surely lost The Touch. But the CAT and Inadvertent IFR you never forget!
 
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Starlionblue
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Re: How to be a good student pilot?

Mon Aug 14, 2017 3:10 am

A good thing to bring up, CH47A.

Inadvertent IFR and CAT can freak you right out the first time or three. I would also add spatial disorientation, which can easily happen in VFR. These are serious events for a low-hour pilot. It's not so much that you don't know what is happening or don't know what to do. It's that the situation is outside your experience and there's a tendency for your brain to freak out. The feeling you get when your brain is screaming at you that you are pitching up when you are stable, or turning left when you are wings level, is very hard to explain to someone who hasn't experienced it. The same with flying through a cloud and suddenly having no outside visual references. The hood doesn't quite give the same feeling as flying through the solid soup.

Trust the instruments. Act methodically and don't rush.
"There are no stupid questions, but there are a lot of inquisitive idiots." - John Ringo
 
Gasman
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Re: How to be a good student pilot?

Mon Aug 14, 2017 4:35 am

Small points, but as a student pilot *all* turbulence you encounter should be clear air turbulence. And as most light aircraft have quite low wing loading, you're going to encounter a lot of it. Also, you will never inadvertently become IFR - but you might inadvertently become IMC.
 
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Starlionblue
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Re: How to be a good student pilot?

Mon Aug 14, 2017 9:21 am

Gasman wrote:
Small points, but as a student pilot *all* turbulence you encounter should be clear air turbulence. And as most light aircraft have quite low wing loading, you're going to encounter a lot of it. Also, you will never inadvertently become IFR - but you might inadvertently become IMC.


Image
"There are no stupid questions, but there are a lot of inquisitive idiots." - John Ringo
 
CH47A
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Re: How to be a good student pilot?

Tue Aug 15, 2017 3:25 am

Apologies for getting back to this late. I saw the responses and realized I wanted to make a point but made the stupid mistake of looking in on that other thread I have been participating in and allowed my time to be used up dealing with the other thread.

Anyway, what I wish to point out is that inadvertent IFR is a reference to the horizon. Yes, I should have been more specific and properly identified both inadvertent IMC and inadvertent IFR, but I was careless. I've been corrected on that more than once in the past.

But what I'm getting at here is if a new pilot flying solo gets caught (Well, could be planned, also.) -- anyway flying at night is what I am getting at here. You can get in trouble if you lose the horizon. Easy to do at night over water, by the way. Of course, in Florida, on the coast, that is one we are careful about. Well, any coast, right? We were on the east coast.

And that one about all turbulence for a student pilot should be clear air turbulence is kind of neat. I've probably heard that one before but had forgotten it.

My early flying days were very strange. Frankly, I am not so sure I ever viewed myself, or any cousins or sisters as student pilots. I flew with my uncle in Florida for a long time without really feeling like I was a student pilot, if you can understand that. For our family the flying was almost like using a car. My uncle had a number of planes, my father had two, another uncle had a couple and it was just a natural thing to get around in a plane. Lots of folks in the family had been flying for ages since I was super young. Oh yes, and fuel prices had not yet gone through the roof. I didn't even learn anything about "ground school" until some guys in high school started yakking at me about flying and then I started realizing I was in a really weird situation. In fact, my first solo flight was about as illegal as one can get -- with friends from high school that had been giving me a hard time about I couldn't fly. Was "solo" only in the sense that none of them had a license, either. Talk about a really, really pissed off uncle and father and just about everybody else in the family except cousins and sisters. They thought it was pretty cool.

Anyway, ... that horizon ...

Come to think of it, the first time I drove a car by myself I didn't have a license. Darndest thing, too, my aunt didn't stop me from driving it back to Royal Castle after lunch. But when my boss found out I didn't have a license she fired me. She never did pay me for fixing her car. I wonder if that Royal Castle is still there? Some Hollywood lady, or singer, or something used to own that chain. See, I told some of you I was so old. You didn't believe me, did you? Ancient, maybe.
 
bond007
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Re: How to be a good student pilot?

Fri Aug 18, 2017 4:17 pm

Everything these guys said ....plus, yes, the physical activity stuff. I am over 250lbs and regret losing weight and putting it back on again ....I'm heading the right direction again now though! It's tough even in a 172 when you are not light and flexible (!), let alone a 152!!
One thing I learned and still do in my recurrent training, is don't take a lesson and then do nothing related until the next lesson. Read the books, manual, listen to ATC, get the King videos (if you handle the King couple!) etc. Try and get lessons regularly ...when I started I waited weeks sometimes between lessons, and it took a while to get back into the confidence of flying every time. Once week should be the minimum if you can afford it....and practice, practice.
Always respect your instructor. I am currently being taught some maneuvers from a CFII who was born after I first soloed. He knows his stuff!
Always use checklists, even for the seemingly minor phases ...like after landing, cruise, before landing. My 'friend' very, very recently (last week) did something stupid that could have been much worse (it was fine), all because he didn't read a single bullet on a checklist.
Have fun!!

Bond
I'd rather be on the ground wishing I was in the air, than in the air wishing I was on the ground!
 
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Starlionblue
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Re: How to be a good student pilot?

Sat Aug 19, 2017 12:06 am

bond007 wrote:
One thing I learned and still do in my recurrent training, is don't take a lesson and then do nothing related until the next lesson. Read the books, manual, listen to ATC, get the King videos (if you handle the King couple!) etc. Try and get lessons regularly ...when I started I waited weeks sometimes between lessons, and it took a while to get back into the confidence of flying every time. Once week should be the minimum if you can afford it....and practice, practice.


Very good point. As some instructors are fond of saying, "the cockpit is not a good classroom". Prepare intensely for every session in order to get the most of it. There's little time to absorb new concepts in the air. The aircraft or the simulator is a place where you practice what you have already learned, and where you are exposed to the experience explained on the page.

For every hour of lesson, putting in 1-2 hours of prep should be the norm. The importance of chairflying cannot be overstated.
"There are no stupid questions, but there are a lot of inquisitive idiots." - John Ringo
 
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DocLightning
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Re: How to be a good student pilot?

Sat Aug 19, 2017 1:03 am

LISTEN TO FEEDBACK. When you are given feedback, do not argue. Do not explain why you did what you did. Just listen to the feedback. Even if it is unfair. Later on, in your head, you can decide whether the guy is an asshole. But as a student, LISTEN TO FEEDBACK.
-Doc Lightning-

"The sky calls to us. If we do not destroy ourselves, we will one day venture to the stars."
-Carl Sagan

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